Archive | Offshore

Alex Thomson: “The boat is faster, but I can’t fall in love with it”

Posted on 25 October 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source: Barcelona World Race] The boat which has been updated to conform with the new IMOCA rule was remeasured accordingly and then at the end of this month it will be sailed to the Mediterranean where it is planned that Thomson and race partner Pepe Ribes will fine tune their training and preparations, interspersed with times at home with their young families.

Alex’ baby daughter Georgia was born four months ago and the British skipper has been enjoying being with her and his family before he sets off on his next round the world race.

“There will be some performance gains with the new rule but the main thing we have been concentrating on has been reliability. For example we have changed the backstays system, we have completely surveyed and tested the mast and reinforced it in places and so it should be safer and less prone to breakage. We have completely replaced all the keelbolts as a precaution and fitted a new engine.” Thomson offers.

Although ultimately Alex sat out June’s New York to Barcelona race, staying home for the birth of his daughter, he is content that he and Ribes have sailed enough miles together. “You’d always like to have done more, that is in the nature of it, but I’m happy.” He says.
Previously they have sailed to Poland and back and across the Atlantic. “Basically I did everything except the race and so that must be around 10,000 miles.”

Hugo Boss is the VPLP-Verdier design which was previously Jean-Pierre Dick’s Virbac-Paprec 3, which won the last edition of the Barcelona World Race, and Thomson cherishes many of the features of the new boat, but it is no love affair!

“The boat is definitely faster and that is what counts. It is a lot stiffer as a composite structure and you feel it, it feels faster. But I can’t fall in love with it. I do like the old boat. This boat has less protection, though I do like being able to drive from inside the pod.” Alex states that he very much enjoys the sociability and the companionship of two handed sailing, and each of his partners has been different in terms of personality and sailing skills.

Ribes is of course Spanish – like their Barcelona World Race rival Guillermo Altadill with whom Alex finished second in the 2011 Transat Jacques Vabre – but they are different individuals, as Thomson considers: “Their culture is essentially similar. They are both very tough and hard working and both come from the Volvo which means they are used to ‘taking it’ (staying on deck taking the weather and sea’s punishment) while I like a bit of shelter, but the similarities end there. Guillermo is much more expressive, so you know very quickly when he is not happy. He is more Latin if you like. And Pepe is not quite so. Sailing wise Pepe is more new school, very up to date with everything, more numbers orientated and driven, Guillermo is much more by feel and more ‘seat of the pants’.”

“With Pepe I think we are pretty equal in terms of how we will work the boat. If a decision needs to be made one of us will make it. He is quite extrovert and I am sure we will challenge each other.”

“Of course it will take some work. All relationships need work to flourish.” Thomson asserts.

The British skipper says he learned so much from his third place in the last Vendée Globe, the solo race non stop around the world, a result he had put more than 10 years of his life into achieving. But he does not think the upcoming Barcelona World Race will be any less intense: “It will be as intense, but in a different way. With two you push that much harder, there is less risk and it is way more fun. I really think it will be very close between the first four boats.”

He is very much looking forwards to this race having been sidelined during the last one. Each race brings new learning:

He smiles: “I learn race by race. As you get older you certainly become more attuned to what is going to happen or what might happen. On the Vendée Globe I learned a lot about carbon repairs. Hopefully with Pepe as the boatbuilder then I won’t be doing that this time!”.

“What I like about the Barcelona World Race is that it is properly international and it is double handed. These things are important to me.”
And as for his rivalry and friendship with Neutrogena’s Guillermo Altadill: “Let’s just say we have to beat him. He may be from the same team and is a good friend but we are out to beat him. Team orders? There would never be any. And can you really ever see Guillermo following them!?!”

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IMOCA General Assembly: the class stays on cource

Posted on 15 October 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source: ImocaOceanMasters] It was a studious General Assembly meeting that took place in the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Nantes this Wednesday 15th October. On the agenda was the event programme for the class for the coming years, the partnership with OSM (Open Sports Management) and the re-writing of the design rules with the addition of some external expertise. After 23 years of evolution, the rules needed more coherence and better legibility, adapted to meet the needs of the current projects.

This GA was, above all else, confirmation of the direction taken by the IMOCA Class around the design rule. This means that, for all new boats built, they will have to use a standardised keel and mast. Two key objectives were cited for this decision, on the one hand the management of budgets for the new parts and, on the other, a reinforcement of the safety factors around the keels. Today, they estimated a lowering of budgets by around 10-15%, based on the prototype pieces.

A clear rule of the game

With 6 new boats in construction, it was essential that the rules from last year remain in place, at least until the finish of the 2016 Vendée Globe event, which marks the end of a cycle. After discussing the opportunities around a one design class, IMOCA reaffirmed the desire to remain as an Open class, with certain restrictions in place around the manufacture of masts and keels.

Obviously the design research also focused on the appendages and the possibility of using foils in certain speeds. Nothing is yet definitive, given the complexity of the parameters involved in ocean racing. But the gathering here today maintained (by a large majority) that the rule should leave freedom to develop these appendages, either during the construction of the new boats or through the evolution of existing boats.
Six new projects under way

One of the proof points of the dynamism of the IMOCA Class is the fact that today there are six new projects that are sure to be completed. Most of the new fleet should hit the water by Spring 2015. The future competitors of the Vendée Globe then have 3 transatlantic races to test their new boats, the Transat Jacques Vabre in 2015 (double-handed), the Transat B to B (return leg for the TJV as a solo race) and the Transat Anglaise in June 2016.

Current new build projects:

-Safran (Morgan Lagravière), design by Verdier – VPLP, expected launch Jan-Feb 2015
-Banque Populaire (Armel le Cléac’h), design by Verdier – VPLP, expected launch march 2015
-Edmond de Rothschild (Sébastien Josse), design by Verdier – VPLP, expected launch 2015
-Hugo Boss (Alex Thomson), design by Verdier – VPLP, expected launch June 2015
-Saint-Michel Virbac (Jean-Pierre Dick), design by Verdier – VPLP, expected launch July 2015
-The Italian Andrea Mura has announced the intention to build a new boat for the next Vendée Globe (design by Verdier-VPLP).

Between human performance and the technological advancements of these racing machines, the IMOCA rules are trying to find the best compromise to enable new routes for research to take place that still allow for innovation to come through. A balance that seems to have been reached as IMOCA remains today the most dynamic class in offshore racing. With these new projects coming through, increasingly noticeable internationalisation and the creation of the new IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship, they have the tools to work with for the longer term. With the help of OSM, in charge of class promotion, the class can now offer a visibly structured product for all of its stakeholders : sponsors, teams, event organisers. Another added reason to stay on course…

 

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Record 123 yachts to compete in 2014 Rolex Middle Sea Race

Posted on 14 October 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source: Rolex Middle Sea Race] A record-breaking 123 yachts from more than 20 countries will cross the starting line of the Rolex Middle Sea Race on 18 October, reflecting the international stature of this popular offshore race organised by the Royal Malta Yacht Club.

The unprecedented number of entrants – a 24 percent increase over the 99 yachts competing in 2013 – includes boats from as far away as the United States and Australia along with thirteen yachts from Malta. More than 15 boats will compete for the first time.

The Line Honours favourite is Igor Simcic’s Maxi, Esimit Europa 2, skippered by multiple Olympic and America’s Cup winner Jochen Schumann. The 100ft canting keel maxi has taken line honour victories in the years from 2010 – 2012, becoming only the second yacht in the history of the RMSR to take it three times in a row. Unable to compete in last year’s edition due to damage suffered on the mast on their way to the race, the crew is returning with the goal of taking line honours for an unprecedented fourth occasion.

Now in its 35th year, the Rolex Middle Sea Race (RMSR) is a fixture in the season, ranking alongside the Rolex Fastnet, Rolex Sydney–Hobart and Newport-Bermuda as a “must do” race.

“For yet another year, the Rolex Middle Sea Race has grown in the number of boats that have committed to compete in this ever popular offshore race,” said Godwin Zammit, Commodore of the Royal Malta Yacht Club. “There are a number of factors which contribute to the increase in participation. Naturally, the scenic yet challenging course plays a very important role, however one must mention the renowned hospitality that our Club offers its guests, which is spoken of highly by participants, often leading competitors to sign up simply through word of mouth recommendations. Last, but not least, is our strong connection with other Clubs and our affiliation with the Royal Ocean Racing Club.”

The event’s fascination is largely drawn from its alluring, 608-nautical-mile racecourse – a rigorous anti-clockwise loop around Sicily which introduces numerous “corners” that present changing and complex meteorological shifts. The route includes the deep azure waters around Sicily including the Aeolian and Egadi Islands, as well as Pantelleria and Lampedusa. One of the most stunning vistas is Stromboli, the active volcano which is a course mark.

Challenging, enchanting and historic, the Rolex Middle Sea Race starts in Malta’s spectacular Grand Harbour at 11am on the 18 October.
“Security and safety of both racing teams and spectators has always been imperative for us and a number of procedures have been put in place. We have worked closely with the Armed Forces of Malta and Transport Malta to ensure that only authorised vessels authorised by the Race Committee will be allowed into the Grand Harbour. Both entities will be present on the day to ensure that all procedures are strictly adhered to on the day”, said Peter Dimech, Race Committee Chair and Principle Race Officer.

Supported by Rolex since 2002, the race commences and finishes in Malta. Winners will be announced throughout the week with an award ceremony wrapping up the week-long event on 25 October.

The Royal Malta Yacht Club thanks the general public for their co-operation in ensuring that all safety instructions issued by the relevant Authorities are adhered to, in order to ensure the safety of all concerned. Moreover, boats in the vicinity of the race courses are advised to navigate with caution and to keep a sharp lookout.

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100 days to the start

Posted on 22 September 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source: Barcelona World Race] Anticipation, emotion and excitement. Those are some of the emotions being experienced today by both the Barcelona World Race organisers and the teams taking part in the world’s only two-crew, non-stop round the world regatta.

There are exactly 100 days to go until one of the planet’s most gruelling competitions kicks off; an adventure and a challenge that pushes human endurance to the limit.

The third edition of the Barcelona World Race, organised by the Fundación Navegación Oceánica Barcelona (FNOB), will set off from the Spanish city of Barcelona on the 31st of December. The yachts will hear the starting gun fire at 13:00 (GMT +1), on the starting line opposite the W Barcelona Hotel. They will then set off on a non-stop circumnavigation of the globe, covering a total of 24,000 miles (44,448 km) from Barcelona to Barcelona, putting the capes of Good Hope, Leeuwin and Horn to port (their left) and Antarctica to starboard (their right). Over the course of three months the skippers will pass through 12 climate zones and three oceans, as well as the Mediterranean Sea.

For some 90 days the sporting partnerships will race on IMOCA 60 yachts, 18 metres in length. These are sea giants, as long as a three-axle lorry and as high as ten-storey building. The yachts’ sail area in fair winds is larger than three tennis courts put together. However, the living areas inside the boat are tiny, with just ten square metres for the sailors to move in. The crew of two must share that reduced space for three months, in extreme conditions; suffocating heat at the Equator, and bone-chilling cold in the Southern Ocean, where hurricane winds and gigantic waves sweep across the deck of the boat with mighty force.

There will be between eight and ten yachts on the starting line. For all of them, preparation for the regatta has entered its final stages and the clock has begun ticking.

Neutrogena with Barcelona’s own Guillermo Altadill and Chilean skipper José Muñoz has had a lot of time to get ready. “The boat is ready. We could load on the food and set off tomorrow”, said Altadill, confidently, for whom the Barcelona World Race is unfinished business.

Cheminées Poujoulat has just come out of the shipyard and is now ready for some sailing test runs. On board, experienced skippers Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam notch up no less than six Vendée Globe entries, nine circumnavigations of the globe and sixty transatlantic crossings between them. However, this will be the first time the Swiss and French sailors, two titans of ocean sailing, will share a yacht…

Hugo Boss with Alex Thomson and Pepe Ribes, however, is still at the shipyard in refit mode. “Are we ready for the Barcelona World Race?” the famous British yachtsman asks himself. “We’re getting there. We’re training and doing what we’ve got to do to be able to compete successfully. We’re looking forward to the start”.

Catalan skippers Aleix Gelabert and Dídac Costa, first-timers in a round the world regatta, have just celebrated the official launch of their yacht, One Planet, One Ocean, sailing with the support of the Pharmaton brand and with an important scientific mission ahead, guided by the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. The pair are set to start the final sailing test runs ahead of the big day.

There will be an official presentation of GAES Centros Auditivos on Thursday this week. Anna Corbella and Gerard Marín are facing the final phase of preparation for what will be for both skippers their second round the world regatta, although this time with different partners. The pair have planned a final test sail for next week to fine-tune the yacht ahead of the regatta.

Jörg Riechers and Sébastien Audigane will soon be revealing the details of their new boat and sponsor. “We make a great team and we have a good boat, so we’re happy”, said Riechers.

Polish sailors Zbigniew “Gutek” Gutkowski and Maciej “Magic” Marczewski will finalise their Barcelona World Race registration in the coming weeks and will also be announcing their sponsor and boat name. The pair have been sailing on their yacht almost daily for the past four months, which is currently undergoing a refit.

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One Planet, One Ocean, sponsored by Pharmaton, presented

Posted on 18 September 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source: Barcelona World Race] The boat One Planet, One Planet Ocean which will participate in the third edition of the Barcelona World Race sponsored by Pharmaton® , has been presented today at midday. The presentation act has been attended by the main guests, skippers Aleix Gelabert and Dídac Costa, who were joined on this occasion by actor Jesús Olmedo; Susana Laguna, head of PR at OTC in Boehringer-Ingelheim and Xavier Amador, Director of Institutional Relations from the Department of Life Quality, Equality and Sports of Barcelona City Council.

Following the speeches from the main guests, the skippers and the Pharmaton® ambassador went on board the One Planet, One Ocean, and Jesús Olmedo handed over two boxes of Pharmaton® to the skippers symbolising the energy required to sail around the world. The actor then broke a bottle of cava over the bow for good luck in the next voyages.

Collaboration with UNESCO

The team formed by Aleix Gelabert and Dídac Costa will collaborate in several projects during the race around the world through the cooperation between the Fundació Navegació Oceànica Barcelona (FNOB) and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO (COI-UNESCO).

The results of the One Planet, One Ocean-Pharmaton® will contribute to the efforts of the Scientific Community, coordinated by the COI-UNESCO, and will constitute a fundamental part of the Barcelona World Race educational programme.

A strong, reliable boat

The One Planet, One Ocean-Pharmaton® is the former Kingfisher, the boat on board which Ellen MacArthur achieved breaking the Atlantic record from Plymouth to Newport in 2000, finished second in the Vendée Globe 2000/01 and claimed victory at the 2002 Route du Rhum. Furthermore, the boat participated in the previous two editions of the BWR as Educación sin Fronteras in 2007/08 and Fòrum Marítim Català in2010/11. The One Planet, One Ocean-Pharmaton® is a strong, efficient boat designed by Owen-Clarke Design, and built in 2000 in New Zealand. The boat has undergone a thorough inspection in the FNOB Sailing Base with several keel and appendix tests, inspection of the manoeuvring system and the tuning of all electronic equipment.

The team

Aleix Gelabert

Born in Girona 37 years ago. Architect. The Barcelona World Race means a huge step following a successful participation at the Mini Transat 2011, which was his first crucial test. A prestigious professional in the world of technical preparation of racing boats, Aleix is familiar with the IMOCA class after being a member of the Onshore team of boats such as GAES Centros Auditivos with team Anna Corbella and Dee Caffari, on board which he sailed the Vuelta a España held in 2010. He was also member of the Synerciel (former Renault Z.E.), boat on board which he sailed the tuning crossing from Barcelona to Lorient together with Jean Le Cam and Bruno García, before the French sailor’s Vendée Globe. In offshore cruiser regattas he holds two victories in the Copa del Rey. He was also a member of the Spanish Pre-Olympic team for the Athens 2004 Olympics. Aleix Gelabert sails representing Club de Vela Blanes.

Dídac Costa

Born in Barcelona 33 years ago. Fireman and undoubtedly the indispensable qualities developed in this hard and highly technical profession have been very important in his Oceanic career. All of them will be one of the elements to be taken into consideration on board the One Planet, One Ocean Pharmaton®. Dídac is one of the young sailors from the Mini youth squads. His sailing career is mainly based on Solo and two crew races. In the 2011 edition of the Mini Transat 6.50 he was the first Spanish team in the Serie category. He has won regattas such as the Sanremo Mini SOLO, the Mini MED 500, two crew race, and the Ophiusa Regatta. He was third at the Gran Premio Italia, two crew race, in 2013 together with Bruno García. Dídac Costa sails representing Club Nàutic l’Escala.

The team has been working over the past months in the boat tuning starting the first navigations last July. Following the qualification course for the regatta, of over 2,800 miles in Atlantic waters, the team will head to Sanxenxo (Galicia) to undertake the last big Oceanic training.

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Barcelona World Race: the countdown has begun

Posted on 16 September 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source: Barcelona World Race] With just three and a half months to go until the start of the Barcelona World Race, the countdown has begun for the teams taking part in the double-handed, non-stop, round the world challenge. Getting ‘back to school’  has been even more intense this year for the teams, after a summer that left little time for relaxing as the skippers followed their regatta preparation schedules both on shore and out on the water.

Cheminées Poujoulat

These summer months have seen the French-Swiss team Cheminées Poujoulat stick to their plan, focussing on making adjustments to the boat under the watchful supervision of skippers Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam and adapting the yacht to their requirements. The boat has undergone a refit in Brest (France). From September 19th, Cheminées Poujoulat will launch into an intensive schedule of training.

Neutrogena

For Neutrogena, with Spain’s Guillermo Altadill and Chile’s José Muñoz, it has been a busy summer, as the Catalan skipper explains: “We’ve been doing a bit of everything; training, sailing and a boat refit and we’ve also taken some time off, although we’ve been racing on other boats. There are always more regattas during the summer, so I like to take part in as many as I can, on any type of boat and with different people. It gives you a lot of knowledge and experience”.

Altadill is happy with the boat preparation: “It’s ready. We have a new keel, a new bulb, new rigging and sails. The boat has been improved as far as possible for the team, so it’s ready. We could even load on the food and set off tomorrow!”.

The Spaniard said that the crew preparation was covering “all areas”, to boost skills and get to grips with the onboard systems. “Personally I’m very focussed right now on physical training and getting a better understanding of the meteorology”, he said.

The motivation displayed by Altadill comes as no surprise. Despite his immense ocean sailing experience, the Barcelona World Race is still unfinished business for the skipper: “I’ve taken part in many round the world regattas, but I have never finished a Barcelona World Race. I want to finish it and in a good position. I always forget about what I’ve done before and focus completely on the next competition, as if it were the most important race of my career”.

Hereon the team’s plans are clear: “We’re going to do our final test run of 2,000 miles, we’ll take the boat to Barcelona and we’ll wait for the start. Whilst we’re there we’ll meet with the sponsors, continue our physical and mental training and we’ll relax a bit”, explained the skipper from Barcelona.

One Planet One Ocean

For Aleix Gelabert and Dídac Costa there has been no time for a holiday. “For us every minute is worth its weight in gold”, said Gelabert.

The boat was put back on the water on the 25th of June after an extensive refit. “We spent the month of July doing short runs on the boat to get to grips with the onboard systems and to continue getting to know the boat. In August we did the qualifying run for the Barcelona World Race: 2,800 miles via the Canaries and Madeira. We had 15 days of intensive sailing, which was really useful for us to draw some conclusions”, explained Gelabert.

Costa also commented: “After three months of working on shore with the boat and doing physical training we’re now in the phase of notching up as many hours on the water as we can. The aim is to really get to see how the boat handles in different conditions and to maximise the dynamic between us”.

Gelabert said: “We’re really excited and happy to see how we are burning through the different stages leading to the start of this round the world regatta”.

The plan for the coming months is to “try out the new sails, fine-tune the boat’s polars, polish off some of our manoeuvres, square up the energy consumption and lots of other things”, said Costa. “And to sail as much as possible”, added Gelabert. “So, we’ve haven’t got time to hang around!”, said Costa.

There’s no doubt that the team’s schedule leaves no room for resting: “At the end of September we’ll sail to Sanxenxo in Galicia, where we’ll spend the entire month of October, sailing in ocean conditions, which are difficult to come across in the Mediterranean. That will be the last big test for us to really try out the boat and as a crew ahead of the Barcelona World Race”.

The team are also fine-tuning the instruments they’ll be carrying on board One Planet One Ocean as part of the collaboration between the FNOB and the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanic Commission, that sees them taking part in various scientific projects during the regatta. “Right now the technicians are working on the data recording system (temperature, salinity and microplastics concentration) so that the levels are sent directly to land every team we link up via satellite, so that we can minimise the impact of the experiments on our sailing routine”, said Dídac Costa.

GAES Centros Auditivos

The GAES Centros Auditivos team with Anna Corbella and Gerard Marín did stop to enjoy some well-deserved holiday time, however.  The IMOCA Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona Race and all of the preparation in the run-up to the regatta “meant five very intense months” so the crew needed “a little break to enable us to take on the final stretch to the start of the Barcelona World Race with our batteries recharged”, said Corbella.

The boat itself has been undergoing the final refit ahead of the Barcelona World Race. “As well as carrying out improvements that we skippers felt were necessary after the New York to Barcelona Race”, says Marín. “The entire boat has been given a new coat of paint, the new keel has been put in and the boat and mast have been thoroughly checked to guarantee that they are ready for sailing round the world, among other jobs”.

“We’re heading into the final strait. The boat is almost ready and we’re following the scheduled plan on a number of fronts: physical preparation, meteorology and training sessions for different boat systems, such as the electronics and upperworks and electrics and hydraulics”, adds the Catalan sailor, who said that both skippers were “very happy with the potential and the performance of the boat and were very hopeful ahead of this latest challenge with GAES Centros Auditivos”.

With three and a half months to go to the start, the team is back in action to test out the changes to the boat carried out during the most recent refit, testing out new sails and fine-tuning polars, as well as training on the water and boosting their physical condition with training. At the end of September the crew will sail to Galicia (Spain) to take on the final test with the definitive boat configuration for the Barcelona World Race, trying out all of the onboard systems in ocean sailing conditions.

“We’ll return to Barcelona at the beginning of November. Thereon until the start we won’t be pushing the boat, so as not to take any unnecessary risks and we’ll focus on our own personal preparation”, the skippers said.

Hugo Boss

Hugo Boss has had a very busy summer indeed, including training on the water with Alex Thomson and Pepe Ribes sailing together to Poland and Denmark. However, the British skipper did manage to take a couple of weeks off to enjoy some time with his family and to relax. Pepe Ribes also managed to spend time with his wife and son.

Right now the boat is in the shipyard, in refit mode. “When Hugo Boss gets back on the water I think the priority will be continuing to train together. We’ve planned the coming months in great detail and there’s always a lot to do, because each day brings new challenges and solutions”, explained the Spanish skipper.

“Are we ready for the Barcelona World Race?” Thomson asks himself. “We’re getting there. We’re training and doing what we need to do to compete successfully. So I don’t think we need to get nervous or stressed, because we’ve been preparing well. We’re really excited about the start”.

Alex Thomson doesn’t think there are any favourites: “There are lots of teams with the potential to win. The experience of Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam is enormous, Neutrogena has demonstrated it can go up against the latest generation yachts and GAES Centros Auditivos has been training really hard… The competition will be tough and I think Pepe and I are in a good position and we’ve got a good boat, so we’ll see. I’m really looking forward to it!”.

Jörg Riechers and Sébastien Audigane

The team with Jörg Riechers and Sébastien Audigane suffered a setback when the German publishers Mare abandoned their project in April this year. The pair have spent the past few months on the lookout for a new boat for the Barcelona World Race, as the yacht they had been set to race on went to Bernard Stamm.

The German French duo will soon be ready with news of their new boat and sponsor.

Zbigniew Gutkowski and Maciej Marczewski (pre-registered)

The team with Zbigniew “Gutek” Gutkowski and Maciej “Magic” Marczewski have recently pre-registered for the Barcelona World Race. The two Polish skippers are set to complete their registration in the coming weeks, when they will also announce the name of their sponsor and the name of their boat, POL 53, the yacht Alex Thomson and Andrew Cape sailed to second place in the Barcelona World Race 2007/08.

Gutek and Magic have already tested out their boat, sailing almost daily for the past four months to test out and make modifications to the boat configuration, mast and rigging. The boat is currently undergoing a refit at the Sunreef shipyard in Gdansk (Poland), including paintwork, changes to the electronics, lines, rigging, new sails and a general inspection. Meanwhile, the duo have begun an intensive physical training programme including cycling, crossfit and running.

 

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Alex Thomson Racing announces the build of the new HUGO BOSS IMOCA 60

Posted on 01 September 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source: Alex Thomson Racing] Alex Thomson Racing is announcing the build of the new HUGO BOSS IMOCA 60 to be launched in summer 2015, with the aim of winning the 2016 Vendee Globe.

The plans the Alex Thomson Racing Team are making in this period will have a significant effect on the competitiveness of the skipper and the boat years in advance of races such as the Vendee Globe. The Team aims to put Alex Thomson on the start line of the Vendee Globe with a boat that is good enough to win.

Financially, building a new race boat is a considerable investment and Alex Thomson Racing are privileged to have the support of their sponsors and financial backing to announce this boat build.  Whilst the IMOCA class have made a number of rule changes to increase the reliability and reduce the costs of the class, the investment is still upwards of €3million. The Alex Thomson Racing Team have been sponsored by HUGO BOSS since 2003 and have secured continued sponsorship until 2018.  “We have a great sponsor in HUGO BOSS. Our team has developed into not only being capable of delivering our sponsors marketing objectives, but also putting a winning campaign together.  Today, we take a big step forward in our ambition to be a winning part of the Ocean Masters circuit and delivering on our shared ambition” said Team CEO, Stewart Hosford.

The Team have chosen Guillaume Verdier and the VPLP Team to design the new HUGO BOSS. Technical Lead from Alex Thomson Racing, Ross Daniel said “To date we have had an incredible experience with working together with Guillaume and Vincent at VPLP/Verdier. These guys are incredibly down to earth, extremely talented, and have a passion for creating winning IMOCA boats.” Aware of the importance of delivering the project on time, on budget & to quality, the Alex Thomson Racing Team understand the significance of having the right project manager and the right builder to lead the project. The Team are currently in negotiations with Hythe based Green Marine to complete the build. Simon McGoldrick, the Team’s Naval Architect said “We hope and believe that the team at Green Marine are the right partner for this project, they are experienced and capable in building custom composites on time and on budget.  Given the choice we would always chose to build the boat in the UK as we are a British Team and want to support the industry and local suppliers that we rely on day to day”. The boat will be launched in summer 2015, withthe objective to be race ready to compete in the Transat Jacques Vabre in late October 2015.

With the IMOCA rule still essentially an open rule, where aside from the one design mast and keel, the designers and the teams are still able to seek competitive advantage through design and build.  A key element in producing a successful build is to be willing to take some risks and innovate.  The hull shapes of the 2016 Vendee Globe IMOCA 60s are likely to be an evolution of the current boats, but one area that has seen significant R&D is the new types of appendages.  The IMOCA class has always led in the development of new concepts in offshore racing and will again push the boundaries during the 2016 cycle. McGoldrick said; “This Vendèe Globe cycle will be particularly exciting as we will almost certainly see the use of foils not too dissimilar to those used in the Americas Cup.  The foils should significantly increase the performance of the boats, an increase we have not seen since the canting keel was invented.  Today all the simulations are theory based and of course theory can be very different to reality, so it is going to be a fascinating next 12 months to see what emerges”.

Lastly, the Alex Thomson Racing Team believes it is crucial to ensure the build is in phase with the competition.  There are four new boats that have already been announced- Safran, Banque Populaire, Groupe Edmond de Rothschild and Saint-Michel-Virbac.  These teams are in various stages of design and build and will be hitting the water from January through to late summer 2015to compete in theOcean Masters circuit and the Vendee Globe 2016.

“We want to take advantage of the very latest design thinking, but also get the boat in the water early enough to ensure reliability.  We have a simple objective and that is to put Alex Thomson on the start line, with a boat that is as good, if not better, than all the other boats that will line up on the Ocean Masters circuit” said Hosford.

In the meantime, Alex Thomson is preparing to take on the Barcelona World Race, the double handed, non-stop, round the world race, on December 31st 2014 together with co-skipper Pepe Ribes. Alex’s perspective: “We have worked hard to put together the right combination to make a successful project. We feel that we have put ourselves in-phase with the right designers and the right team internally and externally to be fully competitive through this cycle. I feel honored and privileged to have this opportunity – I cant wait!”

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World Record for Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

Posted on 16 August 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Royal Offshore Racing Club] Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Volvo Ocean 65, Azzam, skippered by Ian Walker, crossed the finish line of the 2014 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race off the Royal Yacht Squadron, Cowes at 22.20.28 BST on Friday 15th August 2014 with an elapsed time of 4 days, 13 hours, 10 minutes, 28 seconds.

This breaks the previous World Record and Race Record for a monohull set by Volvo 70 Groupama, in 2010, by 1 day, 08 hours, 16 minutes and 27 seconds. Azzam’s record is subject to ratification by the World Speed Sailing Record Council.

This is the second World Record broken during the 2014 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club.

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